Have you thought about going to Durham?
The place: The careers department of my school, which was also where all the university prospectuses were kept
The person: Mr. Scotto, the careers advisor
The background: When I was trying to choose a university, I didn’t even know that Durham had one. My knowledge of the north-east pretty much stopped at the fact that there was some coal mining there.
I also didn’t really know how far north it was. Before going on my open day, the furthest north I’d ever been was York when I was about 8 years old. As a child, I thought it was right on the border with Scotland, so panicked when my train arrived in York and I hadn’t got off – I thought I’d somehow missed the station, but soon realised that there’s a lot more of England to traverse before you get to the border!
The consequences: I fell in love with the Durham as soon as I arrived. Within a couple of hours I was already imagining what it would be like to be a student there, and I never once regretted my choice. It was also where I did my CELTA.
I loved my three years in Durham so much that when it was time to return to the UK for a while in 2011, I picked the closest place to Durham I could, and ended up spending another two years in the north-east, living in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Maybe you should go to Central Europe
The place: Durham University Language Department
The people: My CELTA tutors, Teti and Lesley
The background: I did my CELTA part-time from October to February of my final year of university. I’d always been a forward planner, and come November I was worrying because I didn’t know what I’d do or where I’d go after graduation. I started off by looking for interesting cities, my main criteria being that they should be near the sea, and preferably near the border with another country too. The first city I fixated on was Trieste, Italy, followed by Thessaloniki in Greece a month or so later. Then I remembered that I’d heard about International House and fancied working for them. Scouring their recruitment list, I felt a bit overwhelmed, and nothing really jumped out at me, so at the end of the course I asked my tutors for help.
The consequences: I spent three wonderful years at IH Brno, years which gave me the foundations to become the teacher I am today. I fell in love with the city and made lots of friends. I also got to about pre-intermediate level in Czech, which helped a lot with my Russian.
There’s a huge community of ELT people on Twitter
The place: IH Brno
The person: Shaun Wilden
The background: Shaun inspected IH Brno to ensure it met the standards of International House. As part of an inspection, there is always a final meeting with the teachers to summarise what happened during the visit. He threw this sentence out at some point during the meeting, and it stuck with me.
The consequences: Too many to mention! My Twitter account, learning a huge amount from ELTchat, my blog(s), co-curating ELTpics, conference visits and talks, writing work…but most importantly, contacts. Lots and lots of contacts, including some very good friends.
Olga’s looking for a Director of Studies. Do you know anyone who’s interested?
The place: Brno/facebook!
The person: Pavla
The background: Both years I lived in Newcastle I went for a week’s holiday in Brno and ran around like crazy trying to catch up with as many friends as possible. One evening I was chatting to Pavla about what I was going to do after I finished my Delta. Later that evening, she sent me a facebook message.
The consequences: The next morning I sent Olga an email with my CV, and a week after that I had a Skype interview where she offered me the DoS job at IH Sevastopol.
That led to one of the most eventful years of my life (mostly not my doing), learning Russian, teaching a visually impaired student, becoming a CELTA tutor, and therefore being able to travel the world doing CELTA courses.
We’re looking for a new DoS next year
The place: The IH DoS conference 2015, Greenwich
The person: Tim
The background: I happened to sit next to Tim on the first day of the DoS conference. During one of the sessions we started chatting about the lesson planning groups at IH Bydgoszcz and the importance of professional development for new teachers. He dropped this key sentence into the conversation at some point that day. The next day he said we should talk. On day three of the conference, we did. For nearly two hours.
The consequences: It was a very productive conversation, and three weeks later I was on my way to Bydgoszcz to see the school. Two days into the visit we met with the owner of the school, and I was formally offered the job.
That means that at the end of August this year, I’ll embark on the next stage of my career: becoming a full-time manager of a thriving school, with only a few hours of teaching. I’m very excited about this step, and also slightly scared, but I know I’ll be able to deal with it thanks to the wonderful support network I have.